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Tom Au, CFA
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In the early 1990s, during the middle of a secular bull market, I began work on "A Modern Approach To Graham and Dodd Investing," that was not particularly suited for the decade of the 1990s, but was ideally suited for the following "Lost Decade" of the 2000s. In the early... More
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A Modern Approach to Graham and Dodd Investing
  • New Thai "Women": A Solution For China's Man Surplus? 8 comments
    Jan 20, 2010 2:38 PM

    One of the more puzzling, and troubling, social trends in the world appears to be taking place in Thailand. That is that a noticeable number of young Thai men are seeking sex change operations that would turn them into women.

    That may derive from the mystique of the Thai "bar girl," who is a very sought after commodity. It may also have to do with a somewhat feminine Thai culture that values gentleness and passivity more than ambition and aggression. At any rate, being a woman (and catering to richer, usually foreign men) is seen as such a desirable role that men are crossing gender lines to seek it.

    China has the opposite problem. Its culture has always preferred male to female children, in order for parents to maintain the family line, resulting earlier in female infanticide after birth. But modern technology, in the form of pre-natal sex screening, has led to a disproportionate abortion of female fetuses BEFORE birth.  This, in turn, has led to a male-female ratio of roughly five to four since such screening became widespread around 1980.

    Put another way, there may be a surplus of about 50 million young Chinese men who will not be able to find wives (unless some men "double up" with a single woman, a condition known as polyandry). Jim Rogers and I consider this the single most important demographic fact in the world today (although we disagree on implications).

    If "crossovers," create a surplus of Thai women, that might be an outlet for Chinese men. Given a shortage of Thai men, some of the foreigners might be able to find fully "functional" (capable of child bearing) Thai women.

    Others would have to "settle" for the "synthetic" kind. But that might be a preferred alternative to the "polyandrous" relationships discussed earlier. And best of all (from a Chinese point of view), such matches would not produce children and increase the population..

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  • bearishondisco
    , contributor
    Comments (50) | Send Message
    Interesting commentary on artificial womb technology:



    One could imagine China taking over human reproduction at party headquarters to balance the genders and control the population as desired. Not possible near term but not a pleasant scenario nonetheless.
    20 Jan 2010, 04:04 PM Reply Like
  • Tom Au, CFA
    , contributor
    Comments (6879) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » And the Chinese would do it if they could.
    20 Jan 2010, 04:47 PM Reply Like
  • Andrew Butter
    , contributor
    Comments (1654) | Send Message
    I can't claim to be an expert on Thailand having never been there, but my son spent a year over there learning how to be a Mauy Thai boxer and he explained a few things to me.


    1: The reason over half of the Mauy Taii fights end with a knock out (they are only three rounds) is that the gloves are light and hard and you can use your elbows.


    If you really want to find out how "feminine" Taii men are, try going three rounds.


    2: As far as he told it to me the "lady boys" mainly just grow breasts (the other "functional" parts typically remain intact), and they are simply homosexuals catering to the foreign trade - it's just a simple case of supply meeting demand.


    When you get out of the whorehouses (where the demographics reflect demand rather than supply), the ratio of homosexuals is no different from any other place.


    One of the reason's that you "see" more homosexuals is that Thaii's don't have any problem with people being homosexual.
    20 Jan 2010, 09:48 PM Reply Like
  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (11579) | Send Message
    Trouble in Vietnam also with Chinese men. They cross the border of northern Vietnam, work in the mines, marry Vietnamese girls. Don't pay taxes. Slip back and forth between China and Vietnam. They are spreading Chinese families, language and culture throughout northern Vietnam. The Vietnam government tries to control the flow of people in from China, but can't.


    This weekend we went out to dinner with Vietnamese civil engineers. They drank too much and began bragging about Vietnam's purchase of submarines, and fighter planes. They talked about how China had stolen contested islands from Vietnam which produced millions of dollars a year in oil. These, admittedly drunk, engineers were ready to go to war with China over these contested islands. I hadn't seen this before.


    Never a dull moment.
    21 Jan 2010, 09:48 AM Reply Like
  • Tom Au, CFA
    , contributor
    Comments (6879) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » We had this problem in America over a century ago, with the arrival of Chinese laborers. Most of them were "carpetbaggers," not "settlers." (Didn't bring their women over, for one thing.)


    My mother's grandfather tried to settle in California. But her father thought that things were too "hot" for Chinese people, and went back to China to marry. My mother had to "re-immigrate" when things got too "hot" over there, after 1949.


    But Chinese "spillover" into Southeast Asia is something else again. Carries the potential for war, with the U.S. , Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India all against China (and possibly Russia).


    BTW, the name "Vietnam" is itself a symbol of Chinese aggression. It means "extreme south" in Chinese. Imagine how the Mexicans or Argentines would feel if we referred to them that way.
    21 Jan 2010, 04:21 PM Reply Like
  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (11579) | Send Message
    Interesting story about your family. I'm afraid we might be entering another 'hot' period of history.


    I'm sure Chinese in America found a very racist environment for inter-marriage in your father's era. In Vietnam today, many Vietnamese women want to marriage rich foreigners, of any race. There is a kind of idealization of the foreigners -- Vietnamese girls all seem to looking for a way out, a better life, with a foreign man. I think Vietnamese men are getting tired of it -- and the Chinese sweeping down to buy Vietnamese girls (Koreans, Japanese, and Taiwanese also buy Vietnamese girls) is creating frustration among Vietnamese men. But they can't compete in terms of money, generally speaking. They try to swallow their pride -- but it isn't easy, and I'm sure it doesn't taste very good.
    22 Jan 2010, 09:35 AM Reply Like
  • jack789
    , contributor
    Comments (151) | Send Message
    Re Author's
    " "Vietnam" is itself a symbol of Chinese aggression. It means "extreme south" in Chinese..."


    Interestingly there are some historians who claim the Vietnamese originally came from China, and through a slow immigration process spread south down the coastal area displacing the native tribes, over several hundred years. Eventually evolved their own culture, language and national identity. They may not have been Han Chinese, but simply those Asians who resided at that time in what is now southern China.
    21 Jan 2010, 05:41 PM Reply Like
  • Tom Au, CFA
    , contributor
    Comments (6879) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » There are non-Han Asiatics in south China. But they are definitely in the minority. And treated as such.
    21 Jan 2010, 05:49 PM Reply Like
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